A smile is often one of the first things people notice when meeting a new person. Cosmetic dentistry goes beyond restoring teeth to their proper function, focusing on aesthetics as well. This branch of dentistry is more popular than ever (and crosses over with several other dental disciplines), comprising a range of treatments to enhance smiles. Before undergoing treatment, it is important to understand the benefits and risks of each procedure, so read on for the low-down on three of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments.

Teeth whitening

The natural color of teeth ranges from light grey to yellow but a white and bright smile is often perceived as a healthy smile. Tooth whitening (also known bleaching) lightens teeth by removing discoloration and stains but may cause some temporary sensitivity. Bleaching can be performed at home or by your dentist, with the latter being safest and most effective. Over-the-counter kits consisting of whitening strips are the cheapest way to achieve a lighter color, though results are limited to just a few shades.

Whitening trays are the next set up, in terms of both cost and effectiveness. This method involves using a mouth guard filled with a bleaching gel for 30 minutes to several hours every day. Trays in generic sizes are available to purchase over-the-counter, but custom-made mouth guards are available from your dentist and generally offer better results and less irritation. The most dramatic whitening treatments are available at the dentist office and involve a high-power light, which activates bleaching gel. In just short procedure, teeth may look up to six shades lighter. In-office treatments are the most effective for teeth bleaching but are also the most expensive.


Veneers are a treatment option to camouflage or reconstruct the appearance of discolored, chipped, oddly shaped or misaligned teeth. These plastic or porcelain moldings are bonded directly to the front of teeth to provide a superior smile. Impressions of the teeth are taken in the first appointment to produce custom-made veneers. Your dentist will buff your teeth in preparation for the veneers to be fitted in the second appointment. After placement, the cement is hardened with use of a beam of light.

A reasonably long-term solution, veneers typically last around 10 to 15 years. Unlike other restoration methods, veneers do not require much tooth structure to be removed from the surface. The downside is the relatively high cost.


The most expensive and complex dental procedure to repair missing or damaged teeth, implants offer a longer-term solution for replacing teeth. An alternative to dentures and bridges, implants are surgically placed replacement tooth roots. Inserted into the jaw, implants provide a strong foundation for realistic looking artificial teeth. Not everyone is a good candidate for implants, with a healthy and fully developed jawbone required for the procedure.

The implants procedure starts with a comprehensive consultation, exam and x-rays. The implantation of the metal post is the next step, also the most important part of the treatment. The post is then fitted with a replacement tooth, designed to compliment the surrounding or remaining teeth. Implants are considered a more natural-looking and aesthetically pleasing alternative to dentures although the procedure is more invasive and typically a lot more expensive.

The trio of teeth whitening, veneers and implants represent the wide range of procedures available in cosmetic dentistry. Changing the appearance of teeth can impact positively on many aspects of a person’s life. Whether you’re looking for subtle or dramatic results to improve the look and functionality of your smile, cosmetic dentistry has something a lot to offer. For more information, visit your local cosmetic dentist in Cochrane, Alberta.